Sambalpur, October 24 (LocalWire): At a time when in several parts of the planet youths are leading efforts to raise awareness on the climate crisis, Odisha youths have also vowed to start a campaign to raise awareness and action on water crisis in the state.
Concerned about the water scarcity and sanitation challenges that the state faces, an inception meeting of the ‘Youth for Water’ campaign was organised here on Sunday by Water Initiatives Odisha (WIO), a consortium of civil society organisations and concerned citizens, local youth-based NGO Patang and Bhubaneswar office of the Unicef.
The initiative under the leadership of Odisha’s Water Man Ranjan Panda aimed to involve youth in chalking out strategies to address critical water issues.
The meeting that was attended by youths and their mentors from five districts decided to reach out to and mobilise at least a thousand young people initially from various colleges, universities, and associations on water, sanitation, and hygiene, including menstrual issues.
The initiative also covers issues related to rivers, environment and climate change and aims to bring positive change in their behaviour and organising common action initiatives.
Addressing the meeting, convenor of the WIO Panda said, “Our objective is to build relationship between youth and water in ways that will help them understand the importance of water resources including rivers and other surface water bodies, groundwater and the entire ecology that will help them work towards conserving these resources so that they can ensure a water-secured future for themselves. We as mentors will assist them in achieving this goal.”
“In the coming 10 months, we will be focusing more on activities related to WASH. Today we have decided to identify and build capacities of select young people to be “Safe Water/WASH” ambassadors in their daily lives so that they can be the change-makers and mobilise their families, neighbourhoods and institutions in joining the efforts. We have also decided to engage these young people in online and offline activities for campaigning on water and related issues,” Panda stated.
He also indicated that the organisation will work to expand the scope of this campaign and seek the collaboration of other institutions so that they are able to reach out to all youth of the state.
Within the next 10 months, specific activities will be organised in 10 colleges and localities in Bargarh, Mayurbhanj, Nuapada, Puri, and Sambalpur, which will later be taken up in other districts.
During the meeting, volunteers also chalked out plans to involve youth through various actions both in their institutions and communities, including setting up ‘Youth for Water Club’ to engage local youth through innovative actions throughout the year.
It may be noted here that the ‘Youth for Water’ campaign was conceived during the 3rd Odisha River Conference, organised by WIO and 35 partner organizations at Baripada on 24th-25th March this year.